The Pickles Papers

In October 1988 Eric Pickles and his Tory group took control of Bradford Council with a radical programme designed to "wipe out municipal socialism forever". The story behind the "Bradford Revolution" is the story of Eric Pickles - now an ambitious Tory M.P. and shadow minister with a safe seat. It is a story of intrigue and double-dealing, ambition and power, sex and money, conspiracy and corruption, betrayal and blackmail! Taken from the 1 in 12 Publications archive.

Submitted by R Totale on April 30, 2020

The story of Eric Pickles and his "Bradford Revolution" is a complex web of events, ideas and individuals. To attempt to separate the threads of this web into a single strand is not only impossible but ultimately undesirable. As new characters enter the tale, each brings their own background, motives, experiences and network of contacts.

This document therefore has been constructed as a collection of interlinked and detailed investigations. In this sense it is a resource package and should be dipped into accordingly.

Read between the lines; investigations continue.


This book is the result of 12 months work. Most of the material is drawn from documentary evidence, but where I have had to rely on personal accounts I have sought 2 or more independent sources. Where possible I have had final drafts checked by the individuals directly involved.
This is not intended as a political critique of Eric Pickles or local Tory politics. It is an attempt to establish what went on behind events.
Inevitably a work of this nature will contains errors. I trust these will be minimal. I will be grateful to hear from anyone with new information that will help improve any future editions.
Those who refused point blank to assist me include the Tory leader himself, Eric Pickles, along with his senior Tory colleagues. I have been able to gauge their views to some extent by talking to sources close to them. Most of the quotes attributed to them are taken from other documented sources. In this respect I have relied heavily on newspapers including the Telegraph & Argus, Keighley News, Bradford Star, Yorkshire Post and Evening Post, along with the national papers and numerous magazines and journals.
Mike Howat told me that he and his colleague Derek Halliday were unable to discuss matters relating to the School meals buy-out covered in Chapter 11 without permission from their employers - Bradford Council. At the time of going to print this permission had not been given.
I am indebted to fellow members of the 1 IN 12 PUBLICATIONS collective for their help in research, writing, editing, photography, design and finance. They include Chris Murdoch, Dave Turner, Sev Carrell and Mike Hughes. For additional help in research I thank the staff at libraries in Bradford, Keighley, Leeds and Wakefield, but especially the staff at Bradford's central reference library. I am also most grateful to workers at Bradford Resource Centre, Wakefield county archives, Leeds Other Paper and S.C.A.T., along with Joan Heath, Kate Barker, Caroline Dinsmore, staff at Leeds Crown Court, the Law Society, "Searchlight" and Bradford Register office.
Individuals who helped me include Gerry Sutcliffe, John Ryan, Peter Gilmour, Edward Johnson, Charles James, Max Madden MP, David Saunders, Malcolm Walton, Mike Barnett, Pete Carrol, John Tempest, Keith Piggott, Derek Holmes, Alan Sykes and Richard Penn.
I would also like to thank all those council workers and staff who were helpful and friendly.
Finally I must give a special mention to those very many people who helped me but whom I am unable to name, chiefly because it may make their own work more difficult in the future. They include journalists, police officers, lawyers, councillors and council officials.
Tony Grogan, November 1989.

Notes for electronic edition, October 1996:

Very few alterations have been made in the preparation of this electronic edition of the Pickles Papers. A few errata have been corrected and some minor changes to correct factual errors.

Additional material and updates have been attached at the end of the book in the form of additional "Epilogues" ( 4 ).


On Thursday October 13th 1988, Eric Pickles took the rostrum at the Conservative Party conference in Brighton. 5 years before he had stood in the same place and faced booing and heckling from a hostile audience. But this time it would be different.

A month earlier Eric Pickles and his Tory group had taken power in the West Yorkshire city of Bradford - the only large inner city to fall under local Tory control. With control had come revelations of a secret and radical plan to wipe out municipal socialism forever and to transform Bradford Metropolitan Council into "Bradford Plc", with Eric Pickles as chairman of the board of directors. It was a plan that had been drawn up hand-in-glove with the government over 2 years. It was a plan that was to be the blueprint for every Tory councillor in the land. It was a plan that heralded "The Bradford Revolution".

To cheers from the Tory delegates Pickles declared:

"There is a real sea of change in northern cities which reflects the new realism. It is the test of our party to remove Labour from the last vestiges of power in the north. If we can do it in Bradford, the birthplace of the Independent Labour Party, we can do it anywhere.

"There is little point in Conservatives controlling councils if they administer socialist municipal empires. Our aim must not be to run that system better - to produce more efficient municipal socialism. It must be to change the system!"

Pickles stepped down to become the toast of the Tory conference.

"A big hand for the Tories' local government hero" called the chairman Sir Ian McLeod as delegates rose in jubilation. For Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher it was the best birthday present she could have imagined - the fulfilment of a promise Pickles had made 3 years before.

The story behind the Bradford Revolution is the story of Eric Pickles. The ingredients owe more to a soap opera than a council chamber; intrigue and double-dealing, ambition and power, sex and money, conspiracy and corruption, betrayal and blackmail!